Health Secretary holds ICRC responsible
Health Ministry Secretary Dr. Athula Kahandaliyanage in a letter to
ICRC Sri Lanka Mission Head Paul Castella on Saturday said the
International Committee of Red Cross should be responsible for the
plight of patients and medical staff attached to Puthukuduyirrupu
Hospital for having deviated from the best possible route arranged by
the Government to evacuate them.
Dr. Kahadaliyanage referring to a news item in an English daily said
the ICRC as a neutral and responsible organisation should express
balanced statements with regard to this incident. Kahandaliyanage said
the plight of the civilians, patients and medical staff might have never
occurred if the ICRC heeded the request made by him to move them towards
west where the Security Forces were waiting to receive them and take
them to Vavuniya.
He says the ICRC’s allegations against the Government over the plight
of patients and civilians in the uncleared areas due to the risk
involved as a result of fighting between the LTTE and the Security
Forces and shortage of medical supplies are regrettable.
Dr. Kahadaliyanage said the Government has taken all steps possible
to protect civilians, patients from any harm due to fighting. They were
denied the freedom of getting across to safer areas under Government
control where all facilities were made available to ensure their health,
safety and welfare.
He said all medical supplies along with health personnel are
available without any restriction in Vavuniya to look after the
civilians and patients who are stranded as a result of the conflict.
He said the Ministry expects the ICRC to assist the Government to
move the patients medical staff and civilians so stranded to reach the
facilities made available by the Government in Vavuniya.
He said the patients and the medical staff are willing to come over
to the No War Zone or Vavuniya hospital but the LTTE prevents them from
leaving the area.
The Ministry requested the assistance of the ICRC in enabling them to
reach the No War Zone or Killinochchi or Vavuniya. But the ICRC on their
own decided that they should go to Puthumattalam which is away from the
desired safe zone. “The Health Ministry appreciates if the ICRC does not
point a finger at the Government for their lapses.
The ICRC should jointly work with the Government to achieve common
objective of saving the sick and ordinary civilians from the clutches of